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Transition cows 2010

Marcia Endres

Published in Dairy Star November 19, 2010

The transition period for the dairy cow is a key to a successful lactation and a successful dairy enterprise. This year I attended the American Dairy Science Association's Discover Conference entitled "Transition Cow: Biology and Management". The last time the conference focused on this topic was in 1999. Since that time, transition metabolic disease incidence has been reduced for some diseases, such as milk fever, but not for all of them. What else do we need to learn to reduce disease and mortality in early lactation even further?

Dry cows shouldn't be the forgotten group. During the dry period, a cow is beginning her next lactation and should be treated with care and offered comfortable facilities. The same goes for fresh cows. Cows in early lactation producing over 100 pounds of milk per day are certainly a miracle of modern biology. A dairy cow is a marvelous living engine, an extremely high performance athlete, an efficient producer of wholesome nutrition. The transition period is critical for her success.

Some of the highlights of the Transition Cow conference included discussion on the following questions:

It appears that there is yet a lot to learn to optimize productivity and well-being of transition cows. Working with many commercial dairies across the region, I noticed that increased attention has been devoted to dry cows than in the past. It is a great step forward to see more producers understanding the importance of providing the best environment and care possible to this special group of animals.

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